The Small Firms Association has welcomed the Government's first Spring Economic Statement, which has forecast GDP  growth of 4% this year.

This will give the Government an extra €1.2 billion to 1.5 billion in the October Budget, which will further the country's economic recovery. 

SFA Director Patricia Callan said the Government should use the extra funding to further secure the country's recovery from recession by cutting taxes on business and employees. She says more work must be done to end the discrimination against the self employed and urged the Government to allow people who set up their own businesses to be able to avail of social welfare if that business fails, as well as changing the current tax regime for self employed people.

On the strong euro, Ms Callan said that overall it is good news for Irish businesses as about two thirds of Irish exports go to areas outside of the euro zone while it also proving to be a good boost for the Irish tourism industry. But for SMEs who have to import their inputs, the situation is not as favourable, she adds. 

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MORNING BRIEFS - Bank of Ireland, in its interim management statement, today has said that the macroeconomic environment and outlook in Ireland and the UK continue to be favourable. In Ireland, it said that exports are performing strongly and the recovery of the domestic economy is continuing, while rising employment and confidence are supporting consumer spending and investment. In the UK, consumer spending is benefiting from lower unemployment and a pickup in earnings growth. The bank said its customer loan volumes in April 2015 were €85 billion, compared to €82 billion at 31 December 2014. New lending has continued to grow in line with its expectations. from €1.0 billion at end December 2014. 

*** From January to the end of March, Aer Lingus said its long haul fare revenue rose by almost 40%, while short haul fell by 4.7%. On the long haul increase the airline said revenues grew as new products, routes and increased frequencies continue to build out its Dublin Atlantic hub. The airline's interim management statement said the first three months of the year are seasonally loss-making, but there was revenue growth of 7.9% in the three months; and the average fare revenue per seat was up 12.9%. Its operating loss was €48.4m, which is about the same as the same three months last year. 

*** Ryanair has been hit in an international criminal scam that saw millions of euro taken from its bank accounts. It is believed that this occurred in one fraudulent transaction - using a Chinese bank. Last night Ryanair confirmed it had been hit by the scam and said it was investigating a "fraudulent electronic transfer via a Chinese bank last week", saying it understood the funds - about €4.5m - were now frozen. In a statement, Ryanair said that it expects the funds to be repaid shortly, and it has taken steps to ensure that this type of transfer cannot recur. It said that as the matter is subject to legal proceedings, it will not make any further comment.

*** Twitter's shares fell by 26% last night - wiping $6.1 billion off its market capitalisation - after Nasdaq accidentally published its financial results early. The results showed it missed revenue expectations and that it was lowering its guidance for the year. The release had been posted on Twitter's investor relations site by Nasdaq's Shareholder.com service. Trading in Twitter shares was halted for a while after the release, and when they opened again fell as much as 26% before closing down 18% at $42.27.  
Nasdaq said it inadvertently released an early version of the earnings, and it is investigating how that happened.